Florida Court Explains Procedure for Imposing an Equitable Lien in Family Law Matters

It is not uncommon for the Florida courts to order one party to pay the other alimony in divorce actions. Unfortunately, parties do not always abide by the court’s orders, and legal action must be taken by the courts to compel compliance. For example, the courts may impose equitable liens against the obligor’s account. As shown in a recent Florida ruling issued in a divorce action, though, the courts must abide by certain procedural rules when imposing such liens; otherwise, they may be vacated. If you intend to end your marriage and want to learn more about how divorce may impact you financially, it is prudent to consult an attorney as soon as possible.

Procedural History of the Case

It is reported that the parties entered into an Amended Mediated Settlement Agreement in March 2014. Among other things, it stated that the husband agreed to pay permanent alimony to the Wife equal to one-third of his gross income from employment or any other source of earned income. The husband failed to pay the full amount of alimony due, and the wife filed a motion for contempt and enforcement. Following a hearing, the court imposed an equitable lien on the husband’s retirement accounts to secure the payment of alimony arrearages. The husband appealed.

Procedure for Imposing an Equitable Lien in Family Law Matters

On appeal, the husband argued that the trial court imposed the equitable lien without notice or discussion and erred by issuing the lien without finding the special circumstances required for imposing an equitable lien. The court agreed with the husband, noting that Florida case law requires the trial court to set forth specific findings of special circumstances before imposing an equitable lien to protect payment of alimony.

Specifically, the trial court must elaborate on the payor’s ability to afford the security and explain whether the security only exists for arrearages or if part or all of the security is payable to minimize economic harm.

In the subject case, as the trial court failed to set forth specific findings of special circumstances before imposing the equitable lien, the lien was improper. Thus, the court remanded the matter to the trial court with instructions to set forth specific findings of special circumstances to support the imposition of an equitable lien.

Talk to a Skilled Miami Attorney

It is within the authority of the Florida courts to order a party in a divorce action to pay alimony and, if a party refuses to pay, to take actions to enforce the order. If you are interested in learning more about whether you or your spouse may be entitled to alimony if you divorce, it is wise to talk to an attorney. The skilled Miami lawyers of the Law Offices of Sandy T. Fox, P.A., have ample experience navigating contentious divorce actions, and if we represent you, we will advocate zealously on your behalf. Our office is in Aventura, and we frequently represent people in alimony disputes in Miami. You can contact us through our online form or at 800-596-0579 to set up a conference.

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